Bird feeding at park “actively discouraged” amid fowl and public health concerns

August 28, 2019

Bird feeding at park “actively discouraged” amid fowl and public health concerns

Auckland Council wants to put a stop to bird feeding at Western Springs park. Photo: Faith Cleverley

Feeding the birds at Western Springs park will now be “actively discouraged” with new signage and on-site education due to disease and environmental risks.

Large geese populations, water pollution, malnourished birds, and a lack of biodiversity are some of the ongoing issues caused by people feeding the birds, said bird expert.

The new policy was unanimously supported by the Waitemata Local Board last week and will begin with “interpretive signage and education promoted by park activities” that teaches the benefits of not feeding the park’s birds.

The increased population of fowl increases the threat of bird flu and salmonella, which is an issue in such a busy public park said Ian Mclean, Auckland representative of Birds New Zealand who advised the board on the policy.

Many of the geese and ducks have developed tumours and wing deformities from malnutrition, he said.

“From an animal welfare point of view, it’s pretty poor. If anyone owned those geese they would be facing charges from the SPCA for the ill treatment of animals.

“If we stop feeding birds, we stop relying on volunteers to pick up dead and dying birds over the summer and taking them to bird rescue or burying them,” he stressed.

Pippa Coom, Waitemata Local Board chair, said there is currently some signage that discourages feeding birds at the park, however a stronger approach is needed to stop all feeding.

“It is a cultural change because people have become used to feeding ducks at the park, but what we know now about the negative impact is that we really do need to change that.”

The park, next to the Auckland zoo, is a popular destination for locals and tourists with its wildlife and natural spring lake at its centre, which has been a popular spot for bird feeding.

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